Camellia (Camellia japonica)

Thea japonica.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Camellia japonica

A non-drying oil is obtained from the seed – used as a hair-dressing[46, 61]. The oil consists mainly of olein it is not subject to polymerize or oxidize, nor does it form solids at low temperatures[174].

A green dye is obtained from the pink or red petals[168].

  • Medicinal Use

    The flowers are astringent, antihaemorrhagic, haemostatic, salve and tonic[178, 218]. When mixed with sesame oil they are used in the treatment of burns and scalds[218].

    The plant has shown anticancer activity[218].

  • Edible Use

    An edible oil is obtained from the seed[11, 61, 105]. It is called ‘tsubaki oil'[183].

    Dried flowers – cooked[105]. Used as a vegetable or mixed with gelatinous-rice to make a Japanese food called ‘mochi'[183].

    The leaves are a tea substitute[142, 177, 178, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[113]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and the hard covering around the micropyle should be filed down to leave a thin covering[78, 113, 138]. It usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 23¡c[138]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall and give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or three outdoors[K]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 10 – 15cm with a heel, August/September in a shaded frame. High percentage but slow[78]. Cuttings of firm wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, end of June in a frame[11, 78]. Keep in a cool greenhouse for the first year[11]. Leaf-bud cuttings, July/August in a frame.
Prefers a woodland soil but thrives in a warm open well-drained loam if leafmould is added[1, 11, 200]. A calcifuge plant, preferring a pH around 5[11, 200]. Prefers the partial shade of a light woodland[200], it also grows well on a north-west aspect[11] and on sunless walls[202]. This is a very cold hardy plant, but it cannot tolerate cold winds[11]. Plants should be given a position shaded from the morning sun in order to protect the flowers from late frosts[219]. Prefers a wet summer and a cool but not very frosty dry winter[200]. Plants are not very self-compatible, self-fertilized flowers produce few seeds and these are of low viability[200]. A very ornamental plant[11]. A large amount of named forms have been developed, mainly for their ornamental value[11, 200]. Many of them tolerate full sun[182, 200]. Camellias are a valuable commercial crop in Asia, where they are cultivated for the oil obtained from their seed. Many of the cultivars grown in Britain do not set seed, unfortunately. The following cultivars have been seen with good crops of seeds:- ‘Alba Simplex’; ‘Coppelia’; ‘Guillio Nuccio’; ‘Jupiter'[K].The sub-species C. japonica macrocarpa. Masam. has larger fruits than the type, looking like small apples. The sub-species C. japonica rusticana (Honda.)Kitamura. is a hardier form from N. Japan where it grows at higher altitudes than the species and withstands long snowy winters[11, 219].
E. Asia – Japan, Korea.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.